Same people who were sure 15 years ago that everyone (except themselves) on the web was a raving psycho pedophile with a fake identity joined right up at Facebook shortly after that using their real name and town and school and place of employment and now they're mad because they never bothered with privacy settings and it turns out they should have. Oh, let me footnote this right here not in a footnote and say, yes, I agree, of course they should be mad. Be very mad!
As my IT-type friends online would say over and over again, if these companies are giving you the service for free, you are the product, or at least the advertising. There’s only a limited amount of trust you can put in that relationship. Are we all giving more than we get? Sometimes it's a tough call.
I joined Twitter in 2007, Facebook in 2009, Google Plus in 2011. I turned my one word name into two for Facebook, and then altered my email address preferences so Google would recognize that name as me, because at first it was strict about making sure you were really you. Well, this is the me you get, love it or leave it.
I would tell people at the Plus about the page settings and user preferences over and over again, how to find them, how to use them. Every time there was an update, I’d go check mine again and remind other people to do the same.
Facebook privacy settings were awkward at first, but they got better over the years. You can tweak the preferences for 30 minutes if you bother to go look at them. And they are continually reminding you of them unless you do everything completely public 100% of the time, I guess.
They knew most people wouldn't check, I expect. Caveat emptor, whoop-te-doo.
MOST IMPORTANTLY TO ME, I became so angry when news and blog sites switched to Facebook login for comments and shopping and etc. I wrote emails to every one of them that I used, telling them I would no longer use them if I had to use my Facebook log-in. It did no good. Few other people seemed to care, and I was a weirdo for refusing to play along. Later, people rolled their eyes when I protested over and over again that I didn’t want to give Facebook my phone number. Well, they still don’t have it and when I downloaded my data from them, they had not been able to mine my texts and calls.
I use a separate browser for Facebook. My only other log-in with this browser is this blog. There’s only so much you can do, and in the end we'll all be drinking Victory gin, but, at least for now, why not do what you can? Why hasn't that been obvious all along?
I have one single friend on Facebook who’d remind people that those quizzes which log into your Facebook stream are just mining your info. I don’t know if anyone else paid attention to him, but his occasional warnings were reminders to me to double check what I’d shared lately.
I’ll tell you who knows a lot about me. Amazon. Hah! But the one difference that is worth it for me, for now, is what I get in return. What do I get from social media in exchange for what they give me? I get to know a few people a little better, and that’s a fine thing. But it wouldn’t be worth giving up all my privacy for it. I don’t know why anyone else ever thought it was. At least with Amazon, I get a good deal on spray starch alternative and vitamins. It’s a devil I willingly bargain with. For now. In this era, we must choose our devils wisely. Control is more and more just an illusion, but if you never even bothered to retain any to begin with, you are definitely partly to blame for the mess “we’re” all in. You went from EVERYONE IS EVIL to TAKE ME I’M YOURS in the time it took to fill out a brief form, and now you’re unhappy about that. I repeat myself over and over again to a crowd of nearly none, but context and moderation are always good partners, and trust is something that should be earned by degrees. Did you put on your own blindfold?
I'm still using Facebook, which I signed up at purely to keep in touch with my sweet younger older brother, who never quite got the rest of the internet. (not to make my older older brother feel left out. different case, is all.) But my time and energy belong to me and I say who gets to share some of it. I don't have a good answer for people who feel molested by their Facebook experience—despite the fact that it might seem I'm being cold-blooded about it, I really do care about you and agree this is all dreadful—except to say that you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, just clean the tub and be sure to use a thermometer next time you fill it.